Prof. Dr. Amparo Acker-Palmer

Position: Head of Department 

Contact: acker-palmer(at) 

Nathalie Bataille 

Position: Executive Assistant 

Contact: bataille(at) 

Prof. Dr. Herbert Zimmermann

Position: Emeritus Professor 

Contact: h.zimmermann(at)

Professional Experience (Selection)


1969, Degree in Chemistry and Biology, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich

1971, PhD (Dr. rer. nat), Regensburg University

1972-1973, Postdoc, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, UK

1973-1979, Postdoc and Group Leader, Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen

1980-1983, Full Professor (C3), University of Oldenburg

1983-2010, Full Professor (C4), Goethe University, Frankfurt

1986, Visiting Fellow, Tokyo University (Today), Institute for Brain Research

1987, Visiting Professor, Tokyo University (Today), Institute for Brain Research

1999-2006, Director of the DFG Research Training Group (Graduiertenkolleg) at Frankfurt University “Neural Plasticity: Molecules, Structures, Functions”

2010, Professor emeritus, Institute of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Goethe University Frankfurt


Responsibilities, Scientific Societies (Selection)


1987-1993, Council Member, German Zoological Society

1985-1989, Vice-Spokesman and Spokesman, Neurochemical Group of the German Society for Biological Chemistry

1985-1989, Council Member, International Society for Neurochemistry

1986–1990, Council Member and Treasurer, European Society for Neurochemistry

1998–2000, Vice President, German Neuroscience Society

2000-2005, President, German Neuroscience Society

2000-2005, Council Member, International Brain Research Organization (IBRO)

2000-2005, Council Member, Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)

2002-2003, Co-Founder and Founding-Director, Center of Membrane Proteomics, Frankfurt

2003-2013, Scientific Advisory Board, FIAS (Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies)

2003-2013, Scientific Advisory Board, Ernst Strüngmann Forum, Frankfurt

2003-2010, Scientific Advisory Board, Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research, Leipzig

2006-2011, Co-Founder and Founding-Director, Interdisciplinary Center for Neuroscience, Frankfurt

2008-2015, President, German Purine Club

2019- , President, Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main (Scientific Society at the Goethe-University)




1969, Fellow, Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (German Nat. Acad. Foundation)

1987, Italian Purine Club Lecture, Milan, Italy

2000, Johannes Müller Lecture, Berlin

2006, Geoffrey Burnstock Lecture, Ferrara, Italy

2007, Correspondent Academician of the Real Academia Nacional de Farmacia, Spain

2009, Member, Academia Europaea

2016, Member, Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft an der Universität Frankfurt (Academy of Frankfurt University)

2013, Giuliana Fassina Prize, Rimini, Italy


Organizer, Scientific Meetings


1984, Co-Organizer, Symposium "Cellular Biology of Ectoenzymes", Schloss Ringberg, Germany

1987, Organizer, NATO Workshop: "Cellular and Molecular Biology of Synaptic Transmission", Göttingen

1988, Organizer, Ann. Meeting of Neurochem. Group, German Society for Biological Chemistry, Göttingen

1989, Organizer, Ann. Meeting of Neurochem. Group, German Society for Biological Chemistry, Göttingen

2005, President, 6th Ann. Meeting of the German Neuroscience Society, Göttingen

2006, Vice-President, FENS FORUM Meeting, Vienna

2011, Co-organizer, German-Italian Purine Club-Meeting, Bonn

2012, Co-organizer, German-Italian Purine Club-Meeting, Rimini

2014, Co-organizer, Purines2014, International Conference on Signalling, Drugs and Targets, Bonn

1974 - Member of Organizing or Program Committees of numerous National and International Meetings


Editorial Boards


1980-2002, Neuroscience

1988-2011, Neurochemistry International

1989-1999, Biochemical Journal

1996-2005, Biomedical Research

2001-2012, Journal of Neurochemistry, Handling Editor

2004-2020, Purinergic Signalling, Handling Editor

2006- , Anales de la Real Academia Nacional de Farmacia

Publications Prof. Zimmermann



Klein, R.C., Lagercrantz, H., Zimmermann, H. (eds.) (1982) Neurotransmitter Vesicles. Academic Press, London, New York.


Kreutzberg, G.W., Reddington, M., Zimmermann, H. (eds.) (1986) Cellular Biology of Ectoenzymes. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Tokyo.


Zimmermann, H. (ed.) (1988) Cellular and Molecular Basis of Synaptic Transmission. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg.


Zimmermann, H. (1993) Synaptic Transmission. Cellular and Molecular Basis. Thieme/Oxford University Press.


Illes, P., Zimmermann H. (eds.) (1999) Nucleotides and their Receptors in the Nervous System. Elesevier, Amsterdam, New York, Oxford, Tokyo.  

Original Papers (Selection)


Zimmermann, H., Whittaker, V.P. (1977). Morphological and biochemical heterogeneity of cholinergic synaptic vesicles. Nature, Lond. 267, 633-635.


Gramzow, M., Schröder, H., Fritsche, U., Kurelec, B., Robitzki, A., Zimmermann, H., Friese, K., Kreuter, M.K., Müller, W.E.G. (1989) Role of phospholipase A2 in the stimulation of cell proliferation by homologous lectin. Cell 59, 939-948.


Volknandt, W., Schläfer, M., Bonzelius, F., Zimmermann, H. (1990) Svp25, a synaptic vesicle membrane glycoprotein from Torpedo electric organ that binds calcium and forms a homo-oligomeric complex. The EMBO Journal 9, 2465-2470.


Herrmann, C., Volknandt, W., Wittich, B., Kellner, R., Zimmermann, H. (1996) The major vault protein (MVP100) is contained in cholinergic nerve terminals of the electric ray electric organ. J. Biol. Chem. 23, 13908-13915.


Kegel, B., Braun, N., Heine, P., Maliszewski, C.R., Zimmermann, H. (1997) An ecto-ATPase and an ecto-ATP diphosphohydrolase are expressed in brain. Neuropharmacology, 36, 1189-1200. [(181)


Braun, N., Zhu, Y., Krieglstein, J., Culmsee, C., Zimmermann, H. (1998) Upregulation of the entire enzyme chain hydrolyzing extracellular ATP following transient forebrain ischemia in the rat. J. Neurosci. 18, 4891-4900.


Braun, N., Fengler, S., Ebeling, C., Servos, J., Zimmermann, H. (2000) Sequencing, functional expression and characterization of rat NTPDase6, a nucleoside diphosphatase and novel member of the ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase family. Biochem. J., 351, 639-647.


Braun, N., Sévigny, J., Robson S. C., Enjyoji, K., Guckelberger, O., Hammer, K., Di Virgilio, F., Zimmermann, H. (2000) Assignment of ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase-1/cd39 expression to microglia and vasculature of the brain. Eur. J. Neuroscience,12, 4357-4366.


Heine, P., Braun, N. Jean Sévigny, S. Robson, S.C., Servos, J., Zimmermann, H. (2001) The C-terminal cysteine-rich region dictates specific catalytic properties in chimeras of the ectonucleotidases NTPDase1 and NTPDase2. Eur. J. Biochem., 268, 364-373.


Sévigny, J., Sundberg, C., Braun, N., Guckelberger, O., Csizmadia, E., Qawi, I., Imai, M., Zimmermann, H., Robson, S.C. (2002) Differential catalytic properties and vascular topography of murine nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase1 (NTPDase1) and NTPDase2 have implications for thromoregulation. Blood, 99, 2801- 2809.


Ravi, R.G., Kim, H.S., Servos, J., Zimmermann, H., Lee K., Maddileti, S., Boyer, J.L., Harden, T.K., Jacobsen, K.A. (2002) Adenine nucleotide analogues locked in a northern methanocarba conformation: Enhanced stability and potency as P2Y1 receptor agonists. J. Medical Chem., 45, 2090-2100.


Failer, B. U., Braun, N., Zimmermann, H. (2002) Cloning, expression, and functional characterization of a novel Ca2+-dependent ER nucleoside diphosphatase. J. Biol. Chem., 277, 36978-36986.


Braun, N., Sévigny, J., S. K. Mishra, Robson, S. C., Barth, S. W., Gerstberger, R., Hammer, K., Zimmermann H. (2003) Expression of the ecto-ATPase NTPDase2 in the germinal zones of the developing and adult rat brain. Eur. J. Neurosci. 17:1355-1364.


Ortinau S., Laube, B., Zimmermann, H. (2003) ATP inhibits NMDA receptors after heterologous expression and in cultured hippocampal neurons and attenuates NMDA-mediated neurotoxicity J. Neurosci., 23, 4996-5003.

Braun, N., Sévigny, J., Robson, S. C., Hammer, K., Hanani, M., Zimmermann, H. (2004) Association of the ecto-ATPase NTPDase2 with glial cells of the peripheral nervous system. Glia, 45, 124-132.


Kozalka, P., Ozuyaman, B., Huo, Y., Zernecke, A., Flogel, U., Braun, N., Buchheiser, A., Decking, U.K., Smith, M.L., Sévigny, J., Gear, A., Weber, A.A., Molojavyi, A., Ding, Z., Weber, C., Ley, K., Zimmermann, H., Gödecke, A., Schrader, J. (2004) Targeted disruption of cd73/ecto-5'-nucleotidase alters thromboregulation and augments vascular inflammatory response. Circ. Res., 95:814-21.

Morciano, M. Burré, J., Corvey, C., Karas, M., Zimmermann, H., Volknandt, W. (2005) Immunoisolation of two synaptic vesicle pools from synaptosomes: a proteomics analysis. J. Neurochem., 95, 1732–1745.


Mishra, S.K., Braun, N., Shukla, V., Füllgrabe, M., Schomerus, C., Korf, H.-W., Gachet, C., Ikehara, Y. Sévigny, J. Robson, S.C.and Zimmermann, H. (2006) Extracellular nucleotide signaling in adult neural stem cells: synergism with growth factor-mediated cellular proliferation. Development, 133, 675-684.


Burré, J., Beckhaus, T., Schägger, H., Corvey, C., Hofmann, S., Karas, M., Zimmermann, H., Volknandt, W. (2006) Analysis of the synaptic vesicle proteome using three gel-based protein separation techniques. Proteomics, 6, 6250-6262.  


Burré, J., Zimmermann, H., Volknandt W (2007). Identification and characterization of SV31, a novel synaptic vesicle membrane protein and potential transporter. J Neurochem. 103, 276-87.


Morciano M, Beckhaus T, Karas M, Zimmermann H, Volknandt W. (2009) The proteome of the presynaptic active zone: from docked vesicles to adhesion molecules and maxi-channels. J. Neurochem., 108, 662-675.


El-Tayeb A, Iqbal J, Behrenswerth A, Romio M, Schneider M, Zimmermann H, Schrader J, Müller CE. (2009) Nucleoside-5'-monophosphates as prodrugs of A2A adenosine receptor agonists activated by ecto-5'-nucleotidase. J Med Chem., 52, 7669-7677.

Barth J, Zimmermann H, Volknandt W. (2011) SV31 is a Zn2+-binding synaptic vesicle protein. J. Neurochem. 118, 558-70.


Ripphausen P, Freundlieb M, Brunschweiger A, Zimmermann H, Müller CE, Bajorath J. (2012) Virtual screening identifies novel sulfonamide inhibitors of ecto-5'-nucleotidase. J. Med. Chem. 55, 6576-6581.


Gampe K, Stefani J, Hammer K, Brendel P, Pötzsch A, Enikolopov G, Enjyoji K, Acker-Palmer A, Robson SC, Zimmermann H. (2015) NTPDase2 and purinergic signaling control progenitor cell proliferation in neurogenic niches of the adult mouse brain. Stem Cells 33, 253-264.


Bhattarai S, Freundlieb M, Pippel J, Meyer A, Abdelrahman A, Fiene A, Lee S, Zimmermann H, Yegutkin G, Sträter N, El-Tayeb A, Müller CE. (2015) α,β-methylene-ADP derivatives and analogs: development of potent and selective ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) inhibitors. J Med Chem. 58(15), 6248-63.


Stefani J, Tschesnokowa O, Parrilla M, Robaye B, Boeynaems JM, Acker-Palmer A, Zimmermann H, Gampe K. (2018) Disruption of the microglial ADP receptor P2Y13 enhances adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Front Cell Neurosci. 12:134. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2018.00134


Junker A, Renn C, Dobelmann C, Namasivayam V, Jain S, Losenkova K, Irjala H, Duca S, Balasubramanian R, Chakraborty S, Börgel F, Zimmermann H, Yegutkin GG, Müller CE, Jacobson KA. (2019) Structure-activity relationship of purine and pyrimidine nucleotides as ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) inhibitors. J Med Chem. 2019 Apr 11;62(7):3677-3695. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b00164.


Bhattarai S, Pippel J, Scaletti ER, Idris R, Freundlieb M, Rolshoven G, Renn C, Lee SY, Abdelrahman A, Zimmermann H, El-Tayeb A, Müller CE, Sträter N (2020) 2-Substituted α,β methylene-ADP Dderivatives: Potent competitive ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) inhibitors with variable binding modes. J Med Chem. 2020 Mar 26;63(6):2941-2957. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b01611

Reviews (Selection)


Whittaker, V.P., Zimmermann, H. (1978). The vesicular hypothesis. Trends Neurosci., 1, 100.


Zimmermann, H. (1979). Vesicle recycling and transmitter release. Neuroscience, 4, 1773-1804.


Zimmermann, H. (1979). On the vesicle hypothesis. Trends Neurosci., 2, 282-285.


Zimmermann, H. (1992) 5'-Nucleotidase: molecular structure and functional aspects. Biochem.J., 285: 345-365.


Zimmermann, H. (1994) Signalling via ATP in the nervous system. Trends Neurosci., 17, 420-426.

Zimmermann, H., Volknandt, W. Hausinger, A., Hermmann, Ch. (1996) Molecular properties and cellular distribution of cholinergic synaptic proteins. Prog. Brain Res. 109, 31-40.


Zimmermann, H. (1996) Biochemistry, localization and functional roles of ecto-nucleotidases in the nervous system. Prog. Neurobiol., 49, 589-618.


Zimmermann, H. (1999) Two novel families of ecto-nucleotidases: molecular structures, catalytic properties and a search for function. Trends Pharm. Sci., 20, 231-236.


Zimmermann, H., Braun, N. (1999) Ecto-nucleotidases - molecular structures, catalytic properties, and functional roles in the nervous system. Prog. Brain. Res., 120, 371-385.


Zimmermann, H. (1999) Nucleotides and cd39: Principal modulatory players in hemostasis and thrombosis. Nature Medicine, 5, 987-988.


Abbracchio M.P., Burnstock G., Verkhratsky A., Zimmermann H. (2009) The expanding field of purinergic signalling Trends Neurosci., 32, 1.


Abbracchio M.P., Burnstock G., Verkhratsky A., Zimmermann H. (2009) Purinergic signalling in the nervous system: an overview. Trends Neurosci., 32, 19-29.

Neary, J.T. and Zimmermann, H. (2009) Trophic functions of nucleotides in the central nervous system. Trends Neurosi.32, 189-198

Zimmermann H. (2011) Purinergic signaling in neural development. Semin. Cell. Dev. Biol., 22, 194–204.

Zimmermann H (2016) Extracellular ATP and other nucleotides-ubiquitous triggers of intercellular messenger release. Purinergic Signal. 12(1), 25-57.

Zimmermann, H. (2020) History of ectonucleotidases and their role in purinergic signaling. Biochem Pharmacol. 6:114322. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2020.114322.


Book Capters (Selection)


Lagercrantz, H., Klein, R., Zimmermann, H. (1982). Chemical neurotransmission - an introduction. In: Neurotransmitter Vesicles, Lagercrantz, H., Klein, R., Zimmermann, H., (eds). Academic Press, London, 1-27.


Zimmermann, H. (1982). Isolation of cholinergic nerve vesicles. In: Neurotransmitter Vesicles, Lagercrantz, H., Klein, R., Zimmermann, H., eds. Academic Press, London, 241-269.


Zimmermann, H. (1982). Biochemistry of the isolated cholinergic vesicles. In: Neurotransmitter Vesicles. Lagercrantz, H., Klein, R., Zimmermann, H., (eds). Academic Press, London, 271-304.


Zimmermann, H. (1982). Insights into the functional role of cholinergic vesicles. In: Neurotransmitter Vesicles, Lagercrantz, H., Klein, R., Zimmermann, H., (eds). Academic Press, London, 305-359.


Zimmermann, H., Grondal, E.J.M. (1985). Adenosine-5'-triphosphate at the cholinergic synapse: a co-transmitter? In: Molecular Basis of Nerve Activity, Changeux, Hucho, Maelicke (eds.), Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, New York, S. 91-105.


Zimmermann, H. (1987). Synaptic vesicles. In: Membranes in Nerve, Muscle, and Synapse 2, Hotta, K., Tanaka, R. (eds.), Kitami Shobo Co., Ltd., Tokyo, pp. 232-261 (in japanese).


Zimmermann, H. (1988). Cholinergic synaptic vesicles. In: Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, Vol.86: The Cholinergic Synapse, Whittaker, V.P. (ed.), Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 349-382.


Zimmermann, H. (1991) Cellular and molecular basis of synaptic transmission. In: V. Neuhoff and J. Friend (eds.) Recent Advances in Cell to Cell Signals in Plants and Animals. NATO ASI Series, Vol. H 51, Springer, Berlin, pp. 133-154.


Zimmermann H, Beaudoin AR, Bollen M, Goding JW, Guidotti G, Kirley TL, Robson SC, Sano K (2000) Proposed nomenclature for two novel nucleotide hydrolyzing enzyme families expressed on the cell surface. In: Vanduffel L, Lemmens R (eds) Ecto-ATPases and related ectonucleotidases, Shaker Publishing BV, Maastricht, pp 1-8.


Zimmermann, H. (2001) Ecto-nucleotidases. Handbook Exptl. Pharmacology, 151/I, 209-250.


Zimmermann, H. (2001) Molekulare Funktionsträger der Nervenzelle. In: Dudel, Menzel, Schmidt (Hrsg.), Neurowissenschaft, pp 33-61.


Zimmermann H. (2018) Victor P. Whittaker: The discovery of the synaptosome and its implications. In: Murphy K. (eds) Synaptosomes. Neuromethods, vol 141. Humana Press, New York, NY. DOI

Team Leader

Dr. Marta Segarra 

Position: Team Leader

Contact: segarra(at) 

I graduated in Chemistry and in Biochemistry from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona, Spain). After my graduation, and following my interest in biomedicine, I took the chance to move to Barcelona to do my Ph.D. studying vascular inflammation in the lab of Dr. M.C. Cid (Hospital Clinic-IDIBAPS-Universitat de Barcelona). I investigated the role of metalloproteinases in leucocyte extravasation induced by the interaction of integrins with the extracellular matrix. 


To pursue my scientific career, I obtained a Fullbright grant to do Post-doctoral training on tumoral angiogenesis in Dr. G. Tosato’s lab (National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, USA). In my 5-year Postdoc at the NIH, I was involved in different projects studying how manipulation of signaling pathways, such as Dll4/Notch, Neuropilins, or Semaphorins, regulates the vascularization of tumors and consequently, tumor growth. 


In 2011, after obtaining a Marie Curie Reintegration grant, I joined Prof. Dr. A. Acker-Palmer’s lab. Since then, I am fascinated by the role of blood vessels in the development and homeostasis of the nervous system. I am enjoying every project we carry out in the lab and the new avenues that our research team is unveiling.

Dr. Bettina Kirchmaier

Position: Team Leader

Contact: kirchmaier(at)

Cardiovascular and neuronal development have fascinated me since my studies. People say “seeing is believing” and somehow for me it´s true, I was attracted since my diploma thesis to the zebrafish with its great in vivo imaging possibilities combined with the ease to perform forward and reverse genetics.

I performed my PhD thesis in Prof. Brand’s lab at the University of Würzburg where I analyzed the cardiovascular system in zebrafish with focus on arrhythmia. One of my key findings was that knockdown of popdc2 in zebrafish leads to severe arrhythmia. Accordingly, it was shown that mice deficient in Popdc1 or Popdc2 revealed severe sinus node dysfunction when subjected to physical or mental stress in an age-dependent manner. This finding is from high importance because stress-induced sinus node dysfunction affects many people later in life, causing physiologically inappropriate heart rates.

For my first Postdoc I chose Prof. Schulte-Merker’s lab at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, The Netherlands. My focus was vascular stability investigating one important form of an intracranial hemorrhage disorder which is called cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM). Cerebral cavernous malformations are defined as vascular lesions mostly localized in the central nervous system which give rise to seizures, focal neurologic deficits and hemorrhagic stroke. So far, in vitro studies propose involvement of CCM proteins in multiple vascular processes including adherens junction formation and stability, endothelial cell permeability, tubulogenesis and cell polarity, but the in vivo role still remains elusive. Therefore I established transgenic zebrafish lines tagging subcellular endothelial compartments. This enabled me to highlight in vivo changes in actin cytoskeleton and adherens junctions in CCM1 zebrafish mutants.

In Prof. Acker-Palmer’s lab I am linked to the neurovascular group and I am going to intensify my research in vessel/neuron interactions using the zebrafish as a model organism.

Postdoctoral Researcher 

Dr. Marta Parrilla Monge

Position: Postdoc

Contact: parrillamonge(at) 

I studied Biology with the specialization on General Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Salamanca, Spain (2000-2005). During this time, I worked as support research assistant for multiple histological techniques in the Cell Biology department (2001-2005).


Afterwards, I joined the same department to do my doctoral studies in Neurosciences with focus on the study of axon-glia interaction in continuous growth and regeneration of teleostean optic nerve under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Aijón and Prof. Dr. Velasco (2006-2010). During my doctoral studies, I was guest scientist in Prof. Dr. Chédotal’s group at CNRS UMR7102-Paris University 6, France (2007) and in Prof. Dr. Goldman’s group at Michigan University, Ann Arbor, USA (2008) where I learnt in situ hybridization and zebrafish retina explant culture techniques respectively.


I obtained my doctor title in July 2010 and then I worked a short period as postdoc in the same lab in two projects, the study of human bone marrow stromal cell integration in mouse cornea with therapeutic purposes, and the characterization of primary cell culture of human ciliary retinal stem cells (2010-2011).


Afterwards, I obtained a postdoctoral position in the Molecular Neurogenetics group at the MPI Biophysics, Frankfurt am Main, to the study the homeobox gene expression in the mouse olfactory epithelium (2011-2014).


From 2015 I work in Prof. Acker-Palmer’s group at the MPI of Brain Research and the Goethe University as postdoctoral researcher to analyze the impact of endothelial cells on neuronal-astrocyte development.

Dr. Jing Jin

Position: Postdoc

Contact: jin(at)

Dr. Piotr Kobialka

Position: Postdoc

Contact: kobialka(at)

I completed my undergraduate education in Biotechnology in the Department of Immunology led by Prof. Joanna Cichy at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. During my Master´s degree I had an opportunity to perform international trainings in the lab of Dr. Mariona Graupera (Barcelona, Spain) and Dr. Jonathan Ewbank (Marseille, France) within a framework of Erasmus+ programme. Later, I rejoined Dr. Mariona Graupera as a PhD student and a recipient of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN fellowship in the Vascular Biology and Signalling laboratory at IDIBELL, where I worked on the role PI3K signalling in physiological vessel growth as well as in the pathophysiology of PIK3CA-driven vascular malformations. In 2021, after receiving my PhD in Biomedicine from the University of Barcelona, I joined the Neuro and Vascular Guidance Group led by Prof. Dr. Amparo Acker-Palmer as a postdoctoral researcher, where I am particularly interested in studying blood-CNS barrier homeostasis upon vascular damage.

Dr. Blanca Peguera Carre

Position: Graduate Student 

Contact: PegueraCarre(at)

I studied Biomedical Science at the University of Lleida in Spain (2010-2014) and I accomplished the bachelor thesis in the Molecular and developmental neurobiology group (Biomedical Research Institute of Lleida), under the supervision of Prof. Joaquin Egea.

The university program together with the practical experience in the lab lead to my increasing curiosity in nervous system. Hence, I decided to study a Master in Neuroscience at the University of Barcelona (2014-2015) meanwhile I was doing the master thesis in the Stem cells and regenerative medicine group (University of Barcelona), headed by Prof. Josep Maria Canals.

After finishing my studies, I was deeply interested in developmental neuroscience and I knew that I wanted to do research in this exciting field. Thus, in January 2016 I moved to Frankfurt in order to join Prof. Amparo Acker-Palmer group. Currently I am doing my PhD in the lab, being part of the Neurovascular connection on developmental processes and disease team.

Dr. Cecília Llaó Cid 

Position: Graduate Student 

Contact: llaocid(at)

I studied Biochemistry at Universitat de Barcelona (UB) from 2010 to 2014. During the last year of my bachelor, I did my Erasmus internship in this group, led by Prof. Dr. Acker-Palmer, which was a fantastic experience.

Afterwards, I went back to Barcelona and studied a Master’s degree in Biomedicine, at UB (2014-2015). There I did some practices in the Lipidic metabolism-LPL group led by Prof. Dr. Miquel Llobera, at the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department. For my Master thesis, I got an Eurolife scholarship to perform my Master Thesis at the Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum (LUMC), in Leiden (The Netherlands). There, I joined the TGF-β Group, led by Prof. Dr. Peter ten Dijke, at the Molecular Cell Biology department. In April 2016, I returned to Prof. Dr. Amparo Acker-Palmer’s group as a PhD student, being part of the neurovascular team. I study the role of classical neuronal guidance cues during vascular development and pericyte recruitment. I am fascinated by the neurovascular interactions, how the nervous and vascular systems influence each other during development and CNS barriers formation. When I’m not in the lab you can find me running in the mountains, climbing, playing cello in the orchestra or hanging out with the other colleagues from the lab.

Doctoral Researcher

M.Sc. Olga Tschesnokowa

Position: Graduate Student 

Contact: tschesnokowa(at)

M.Sc. Johanna Vogenstahl

Position: Graduate Student

Contact: vogenstahl(at)

Education & research experience

During my bachelor in Biology at the University of Montpellier (France), my fascination for the brain and its complexity quickly made me specialize in Neuroscience. Then I enrolled in a program dedicated to Neuroscience at the University of Manchester (UK) by my last year of bachelor and joined later a trinationnal Neuroscience master program grouping the universities of Strasbourg (France), Freiburg (Germany), and Basel (Switzerland). I did my first steps in the World of Electrophysiology during my rotation at the Josef Bischofberger lab (Universität Basel), where I studied neuronal morphogenesis and activity in an in vitro model of autism. This experience was so exciting to me that it shaped the rest of my education. I directly chose neurophysiology as a major and moved to Frankfurt to investigate thalamocortical circuits with Johannes Letzkus team (Max Planck Institute for Brain Research) for my master thesis. There, I learned how to study neuronal connectivity by combining patch clamp and optogenetics in mouse brain slices (Pardi, Vogenstahl, et al., Science, 2020). 

Research interest

While I focused on inter-neuronal communication during my education, I decided to get a bigger picture of the brain functioning by considering the relationship of neurons with other brain cell types. Thus I joined the Acker-Palmer lab for my PhD, where I’m currently working on the influence of endothelial signaling on the development of the neurovascular unit and neuronal function and connectivity. My project focuses on two brain regions: the hippocampus - highly involved in memory formation and spatial navigation - and the cerebellum - crucial for movement coordination and motor learning.

All in all, I am deeply interested in elucidating intercellular communications and mechanisms that build an individual from single-cell homeostasis to complex behavior. 

M.Sc. Maximilian Ken Kracht 

Position: Graduate Student

Contact: kracht(at)

I studied Life Sciences at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University at Frankfurt from 2013 to 2016. During the last year of my bachelor, I did an academic exchange at Osaka University in Japan. I was fascinated by neurobiology and to further explore the multiple perspectives of neurobiology, I wrote my bachelor thesis in Prof. Dr. Acker-Palmer’s group. During my stay at Osaka University, I realized that I wanted to give my studies an international focus. This is one of many reasons the master course “Interdisciplinary neuroscience” in English at the Goethe University aroused my interest, where I studied 2016-2018. To further explore my particular interest in synaptic plasticity in the developing hippocampus, I wrote my master thesis in Prof. Dr. Acker-Palmer’s group. My distinct interest in neuroscience further deepened during my master; as a result, I want to pursue this passion in my Ph.D. studies further and decided to stay in the Acker-Palmer group (2018-). My main research focuses on investigating molecular players mediating the intricate crosstalk between neuronal and glial networks and the vasculature.

I enjoy playing ping pong with my colleagues and my hobbies during my free time are softball and volleyball.



M.Sc. Helene Juul Belling 

Position: Graduate Student

Contact: juulbelling(at) 

I’m born and raised in Denmark and have been studying at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU). During the bachelor I was involved in Parkinson's disease research and during the master I shifted to heart regeneration in Zebrafish under the supervision of Prof. Ditte Caroline Andersen. It was during my University time I started to get really curious about the neurovascular interactions and the zebrafish as a model. 

Due to my curiosity, I moved to Frankfurt am Main and joined the Acker-Palmer group as a PhD in 2019. Here, I’m now working with Zebrafish embryos- and adults. My main protein of interest is called Neuropilin and has been shown to be an important player in the neurovascular system as well as early development in both mice and Zebrafish.

B.Sc. Nensi Alivodej

Position: Graduate Student (fast track) 

Contact: alivodej(at) 

M.Sc. Lukas Euler

Position: Graduate Student

Contact: lukas.euler(at) 

Undergraduate Students and Visitors 

Phillip Eschmann 

Position: Student assistant


Research Assistants

Peter Brendel 

Position: Laboratory Technician 

Contact: P.Brendel(at) 

After completing my diploma thesis in May 1994 (Isolation of the soluble 5´-Nucleotidase from bovine brain and production of a polyclonal antibody) I started as a Technician in the same group (Professor Herbert Zimmermann, Neurochemistry) in November 1994. Since then I participated in different cell biological and biochemical projects in the field of neurochemistry and have been involved in multiple teaching projects, especially in practical courses. Since 2011 I have been a member of the “Neural and Vascular Guidance Group” of the new department of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology headed by Professor Amparo Acker-Palmer. 

Denis Schmelzer

Position: Animal caretaker 

Contact: schmelzer(at) 

Tarek Belefkih 

Position: Animal caretaker

Contact: belefkih(at)